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Blairites putting a coalition before Labour

23rd April 2010 Socialist Action 0

By Stephen MacAvoy

Following the Liberal Democrats’ rise in the polls, the Blairites have launched an offensive to secure their long held goal of a Lib-Lab coalition. The BBC’s Nick Robinson has reported that senior Labour figures see the prospect of a Lib-Lab post election deal as the “the ultimate fulfilment of the New Labour mission.”

It is now less than two weeks till election day and postal voting is commencing, so one would expect Labour’s campaign to be focussed on maximising its vote. But this is not happening. Instead in the official campaign, run by Peter Mandelson, the formation of a coalition is being promoted. Mandelson’s memo to Labour Party members on 18 April, in which he said he was “not against coalition government in principle”, was flagged up by The Independent as “the first time a senior Labour figure has spoken about a Lib-Lab coalition” in this election. To help secure this outcome the Lib Dems are being defended, with Mandelson criticising media attacks on them. Simultaneously, Labour and its Leader’s prospects have been deliberately run down, with the FT titling an article “Mandelson admits voters tired of Labour”.

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‘Tougher and deeper’ cuts than Thatcher budget has damaged Labour

1st April 2010 Socialist Action 0

by James Norton

All the opinion polls which have come out since the budget confirm the politically damaging character of the budget and the consequent deliberate decision by Alistair Darling to declare that public spending cuts would be ‘tougher and deeper’ than under Thatcher. 

Three new polls were published on 29/30 March. Opinium registered the Tories lead increasing from 7% on 22 March to 10% on 29 March. ComRes, which had give a Tory lead of 5% on 28 February, by 28 March recorded a Tory lead of 7%. YouGov, which prior to the budget had seen the Tories lead fall as low as 2%, on 29 March recorded the Conservatives having opened up a 7% gap over Labour.

In short the period prior to the budget, when Labour had been emphasising the difference between its position and Tory cuts, saw the Conservatives lead shrink dramatically. The moment that Alistair Darling delivered the budget, and deliberately talked about cuts worse than Thatcher, Labour’s position worsened significantly.

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Fighting against a Tory majority

30th December 2009 Socialist Action 0

By Stephen MacAvoy

The narrowing of the Tory lead in the opinion polls over recent months underlines that the outcome of the next election is not certain. The political implications are clear: a shift by Labour to policies that motivate the overwhelming majority of the population threatened by the Tories’ planned harsh economic policies could prevent a Conservative government.

Despite the backdrop of a deep economic downturn and strong backing from most of the press amongst other factors, the Conservatives are still only polling on average at around 40 per cent (see UK Polling Report 28 December).

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Battle joined over Labour’s future

1st March 1998 Socialist Action 0

First published: March 1998

The first nine months of the Labour government have confirmed that Tony Blair is not simply ‘another’ right wing Labour leader. Blair’s project is to dismantle the Labour Party as a party based on the unions, to destroy the elements of democracy which exist within the party and to transform the British political party system, through electoral reform, to make possible a long-term governmental alliance with the Liberal Democrats and, if possible, the Heseltine-Clarke wing of the Tory Party. The obstacle to this project is the Labour left – linked to the growing opposition to Blair’s attacks on the welfare state in the labour movement.

Blair and Mandelson believe, like those who walked out of Labour to form the SDP in 1981, that the risk of political radicalisation by the trade unions linking up with the left in the constituencies and parliament, makes the traditional mechanisms for right wing control of the Labour Party unsafe. But, unlike the SDP, Blair is using the central apparatus of the party and of government, to try to break up the Labour Party’s structures from within.

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Gains for women could prove short lived

1st March 1997 Socialist Action 0

First published: March 1997

In addition to electing an historic number – 101 – of women MPs, Labour succeeded in closing the gender gap in voting in this general election. In 1992 exit polls showed that only 35 per cent of women voted Labour. This compared with 37 per cent of men.

The increased number of women MPs still leaves the Parliamentary Labour Party made up of only 24 per cent women members and the House of Commons as a whole with 18 per cent of MPs being women, lower than parliaments in Spain, Germany, Austria, Holland, Denmark and Sweden. At least 33 of the new women MPs elected were originally selected through an all-women shortlist. However, following the failure to appeal the Leeds Industrial Tribunal ruling, this policy was dropped and has not been replaced with any other mechanism.